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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Catherine Stein

Rachael Fasching (of Not a Mourning Person, by Catherine Stein)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman from Book 2 of the Victorian historical-fantasy Potions and Passions series. We’re always happy when our patrons revisit us!

This volume is her first appearance. She is here to tell us about
Ancient curses, poetry, murder, intrigue, magic — and about love.


Welcome, Mrs. Fasching. We are so pleased you have accepted this interview with our newspaper. Please introduce yourself for our readers.

Call me Rachael, please. My married name has a host of unpleasant memories associated with it.

Oh, dear me. Yes. Can you tell us something about your background? Who was your husband and what happened to him?

Well. Anyone who reads the gossip rags knows something of the matter. Mr. Fasching was an American potions importer. He became involved with the wrong people and ended up dead. I can’t say I’m terribly sorry about it. He was rather a villain, as it turns out.

I must say, you wear your widowhood well. That is a marvelous dress.

Isn’t it, though? I’m sure many would tell me that the neckline is too low to be appropriate for a widow, and the red embroidery likewise improper, but I have never been one to conform to restrictive fashion ideals. I prefer to set the new trends. People may gape and whisper if they wish, but no one can say I lack for beauty or elegance.

Your bold personal style does garner attention. Is that your plan, now that you will soon put your mourning period behind you? Attend parties and show off?

Parties and showing off are always in the plan. But I have far more interesting goals for my life at present. As I have indicated, I do not wish to use Fasching’s name. I intend to remarry to remedy the situation. In fact, I fully intend to woo the most passionate, romantic man in all of England until I have earned his undying love.

How strange. Because your name has recently been linked to that of Professor Avery Cantrell, a man noted for being dull and peculiar.

Ah, dear readers, you know so little about him. I don’t expect you to believe me, but Cantrell is so much more than you see on the surface. He hides himself behind his research, but I am uncovering his secrets and I must tell you they are delightfully intriguing. I do not doubt we will have fantastic adventures together.

Speaking of adventures, what can you tell us about yours?

Well. Certain information is not mine to share, but I can tell you that I have recently learned of strange, ancient curses and deadly potions allergies. I’ve encountered murder by poison and discovered vital clues. I’ve scandalized society by driving steam cars fully as well as any man.

Continue reading “Rachael Fasching (of Not a Mourning Person, by Catherine Stein)”
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Henry Ainsworth (of How to Seduce a Spy, by Catherine Stein)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an agent of the British crown, with a deceptively simple directive: end the magical potions crisis, by any means necessary. He’s here to tell us about how posing as a bodyguard and joining the beguiling potions expert on her continent-hopping expedition led to danger of both life and heart.


Ah, Ainsworth. Welcome. Please sit down.

Sir? It was my understanding that all reports were to be conducted in private. It appears we have an audience.

Indeed. Given the importance of this mission, Parliament has decreed that the information be made available to this carefully selected committee.

I see.

Now, please introduce yourself to these fine people.

Captain Henry Charles MacAlaster Ainsworth, intelligence officer, retired. My current title is that of Civilian Consultant to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. You may also know me as Lord Henry, youngest son of George Ainsworth, Marchese di Murlo. Not that my father’s Italian title puts us anywhere but on the fringes of British aristocracy. His money on the other hand… well, I’m certain you understand.

Tell us a bit more of your background. Your childhood? Your family?

I don’t see how this is especially relevant to my report.

*an awkward pause ensues*

Very well. I grew up traveling often between Italy and England for my father’s business dealings, and Scotland where my mother’s family lives. My father stopped traveling when I was a teenager, and my brothers are happy to remain in Italy growing grapes, but I have never stopped craving travel and adventure. I live in London now, but my occupation takes me all over the world.

Ah, yes. About this occupation of yours. What exactly is a “Civilian Consultant?”

You wish me to be blunt? I’m a spy. What I once did in the army, I now do as a direct agent of the Crown. I sneak into places where I’m not supposed to be to gather intelligence. I’m particularly good at drawing maps from memory and I steal things probably more often than necessary. My sister, Emma, calls it a “disgraceful profession,” but I find it rather suits me.

Continue reading “Henry Ainsworth (of How to Seduce a Spy, by Catherine Stein)”

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